WikiWomenCamp kicks off to bring more inclusivity to Wikipedia



Photo by Carolina De Luna/Wikimedia Mexico, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Wikimedia Mexico invited women from all over the world to Mexico City with a question and a challenge: What does a truly inclusive Wikimedia movement look like, and how do we attain it?

The camp dived straight into collaboration, endeavoring to topple one monumental barrier for thousands of editors: Wikipedia’s ever-pervasive gender gap.

Five years in the making, the meetup brought together an all-star team of contributors from every corner of the movement, such as:

The importance of women’s participation in editing Wikipedia was already common knowledge among the over 50 WikiWomen in attendance. After all, according to WikiProject Women in Red,  less than 20% of Wikipedia’s contributions are from women, and LGBTQ members of the community report feeling excluded—or worse, endangered—by daring to contribute.

The community is working together to combat this trend: Volunteers lead initiatives like Editatona and Women in Red continue to move the needle every day, and Foundation employees have been intensifying their efforts to combat online harassment and increase diversity on Wikipedia, especially during Women’s History Month.

That’s why a large portion of the event was reserved for building better support systems, online and off. Whose voices are we missing from the movement, for example? Who are we inadvertently silencing? How can we make editing safer for trans Wikipedians, who often edit anonymously for fear of being harassed or doxxed online? Wikimedia México even hired translators with extensive backgrounds in supporting women’s rights in digital spaces, like Erika from Dominemos las Tecnología.

Photo by Blossom Ozurumba, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The meetup challenged everyone to offer more than just support: more often than not, women were excited to band together in small sessions, learning as much as they could from (and about) each other before the inevitable end of the weekend.

An introductory course on Wikidata, breakout sessions on incorporating editing skills in education, and over a dozen lightning talks inspired each other to start online groups and communities that will hopefully thrive long after WikiWomenCamp has come to an end.

On top of learning new skills and building a stronger offline community, WikiWomenCamp was a fantastic opportunity to talk strategy. Adele Vrana, the Wikimedia Foundation’s director of strategic partnerships, invited the community to tell the Foundation in no uncertain terms what was working, and what isn’t. The responses championed the need for greater connectedness to the movement and each other.

Aubrie Johnson, Social Media Associate
Wikimedia Foundation

from Wikimedia Blog

Bringing the magic of classical music to Ukrainian speakers



Mozart graffiti, 2013. Photo by Vitold Muratov, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Collaboration has reached a new level in Kiev, Ukraine, where professional musicians are bringing the magic of Mozart, Chopin, and more classical composers to Ukrainian speakers and releasing the work under free licenses.

The latest installment in the long-running World Classics in Ukraine (WCU) project came last month. On June 18, Ukrainian musicians presented parts of The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Magic Flute, all operas from Mozart that premiered in the 1780s–90s. On the following day, another set of musicians performed Chopin’s Polish songs, a set of 19 texts that Chopin set to music at various points in the 1800s.

You can hear, watch, read, sing, and download the music for yourself. Audio and video from the performances, along with Ukrainian scores and lyrics, are available on Wikimedia Commons. Their free licenses mean that anyone, anywhere can use the works with a minimum of stipulations, such as attributing the creators and releasing any remixes under a similar copyright license.

Wrapping up one of the concerts. Photo by Василь Шевченко, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Organizer and Ukrainian Wikipedian Andriy Bondarenko says that everyone should have these sorts of works in their native language so that it can make deep connections within an individual. “World Classic in Ukraine’s goal is to give the public access to translations of all the masterpieces of vocal music,” he says.

Obtaining the necessary ingredients for these performances has occasionally proved to be a challenge. The translations for the three Mozart operas performed last month, for example, came from historical translations completed by two people, both by now deceased. WCU project supporters had to work with their heirs to get permission to use the translations, proofread them for accuracy (as some information had been lost over the years), and upload them under free licenses. In another example, WCU was able to collaborate with Olena O’Lear, a well-known Ukrainian translator, to obtain a complete version of Dido and Aeneas.

This hasn’t always been successful. Bondarenko says that the team “managed to find translations of two songs performed by Borys Ten, but because Ten left no heirs, they are both orphan works.”

Still, they soldier on. With the latest recordings, WCU has obtained over 200 minutes of classical music. Bondarenko has hopes to bring this into the dozens or even hundreds of hours over the upcoming years. “The bulk of the great classics have yet to be translated,” he says. “All we need are the translators.”

Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

Interested in starting a similar project in your own community? Read more about a similar but unrelated initiative in Spain to recruit musicians, record concerts, and release the results under free licenses.

from Wikimedia Blog

Community digest: Wikipedia for Peace, editing to celebrate diversity at WorldPride Madrid; news in brief



Photo by Malopez 21, CC BY-SA 4.0.

WorldPride is an international event that aims at promoting LGBT issues by holding parades, festivals, and cultural activities during the celebrations of Stonewall riots anniversary. The event has been held previously in Rome, Jerusalem, London, Toronto, and this year in Madrid, Spain.

We decided to join WorldPride with a Wikipedia event, so that we could help highlight LGBT issues by adding content about them on Wikimedia projects. 15 participants from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Poland, UK, Germany and Spain attended the event, held from 23 to 27 June 2017. The group created 49 new articles in 10 different languages, took and uploaded more than 100 photos to Wikimedia Commons, and more.

The editing workshop took place at Medialab-Prado, a cultural space in the city center of Madrid. During the event, Wikipedian DaddyCell advised the group on possible topics to write about and helped the new editors learn basic editing skills.

The event was organized by Wikipedia for Peace, a community project to improve Wikipedia’s content on social movements, justice and peace. So far, two writing camps were held for the project in Austria, in 2015 and 2016, organized by Wikimedia Austria and Service Civil International Austria. In 2017, the project expanded to Germany and Spain, this year’s host for the WorldPride event.

Contributing to Wikimedia projects wasn’t our only activity at WorldPride. Our free time activities included attending Mayte Martin’s concert, a concert for the benefit of functional diversity LGBT people in Matadero, and city tours in Madrid. Also we took the opportunity to attend the human rights summit in Madrid that began on 26 June.

The organizers provided free tickets for our participants and two press passes to take photos during the talks. Some memorable moments were meeting Frank Van Dalen, the vice-president of InterPride, and the talk of Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the former prime minister of Iceland and the first openly gay head of a government. The next day we were invited to attend the round table discussion in the main auditorium. Florence Claes, from Wikimedia Spain, held a vital discussion on “the internet and social networks role in making minorities visible.”

The next WorldPride will be held in New York in 2019, and we are considering plans for a similar event in New York.

Saskia Ehlers, Wikimedia Germany
Rubén Ojeda, Wikimedia Spain

In brief

Wikimedia affiliates update: The Wikimedia Affiliations Committee (AffCom) has recognized four new user groups. The Wikipedia Library user group will aim to combine and multiply collaboration with libraries and librarians, from edit-a-thons hosted at libraries, to the Wiki Loves Libraries outreach campaign, to the broader institutional and publisher outreach of the Wikipedia Library, to a single forum open to all Wikimedia community members and any librarians interested in working with Wikipedia. Odia Wikimedians aims at bringing together contributors to Odia-language Wikimedia projects, as well as individuals who contribute to other Wikimedia projects on topics related to the Odia language, the Odia people, and the Indian state of Odisha. Wikimedians of Cameroon aims at supporting Wikimedia projects in Cameroon, supporting Cameroonian Wikimedians. Hindi Wikimedians will be working on supporting Wikimedia projects and the contributors to them in the Hindi language. Congratulations to the new affiliates.

Belgian Wikipedians celebrate freedom of panorama with a photography contest: This month, the Wikimedia community in Belgium is holding Wiki Loves Public Spaces photography contest. This month marks one year since freedom of panorama laws have come into force in Belgium. The change allows photographers to take and freely share photos of buildings and works of art in public spaces.

MedinaPedia: Participants of the MedinaPedia project in Tunisia started their initiative to install QR codes on monuments in the Medina of Tunis. The QR codes will let the monument visitors get information from Wikipedia about every monument in different languages.

Swedish court rules against freedom of panorama: The Swedish Patent and Market Court ruled against Wikimedia Sweden (Sverige) in a lawsuit filed by Visual Copyright Society in Sweden (see previous blog coverage). Wikimedia Sweden, an independent chapter in the country, had created a database of Swedish public art with photos from Wikimedia Commons.

Outreach activities in Nigeria: Last week, the Wikimedia user group Nigeria held a workshop on basic Wikipedia training at Nigerian Institute of Journalism in Lagos. The user group has also participated in the Open Data Day 2017, where Wikipedian Sam Oyeyele gave an introductory workshop to Wikidata.

Cycle three of the movement strategy discussion has started: In the first two cycles of the Wikimedia movement 2017 strategy, the community has expressed their opinions on what the movement should achieve and what challenges and opportunities are facing the movement. This cycle is dedicated to considering the challenges identified by the research and exploring how we may want to evolve or respond to changes in the world around us. In July, each week, a new challenge and insights will be posted, so that you can share how it connects to or changes your perspective on our future direction. Learn more and join the discussion on meta.

Compiled and edited by Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern
Wikimedia Foundation


from Wikimedia Blog

Yale Law School and the Wikimedia Foundation create new research initiative to help preserve and protect the free exchange of information online



Photo by Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Wikimedia Foundation and the Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School recently expanded their longstanding collaboration to focus on raising awareness and conducting research related to threats against the intermediary liability protections that enable online platforms to act as neutral third parties in hosting user-generated content. Through the Wikimedia/Yale Law School Initiative on Intermediaries and Information (WIII), the Wikimedia Foundation will support a Research Fellow, based at Yale Law School. The initiative will support research on policies, legislation, and threats related to intermediary liability and hyperlinking.

Intermediary liability protections are a critical component of the open internet, supporting the free exchange of information online. Threats to hyperlinking and efforts to hold intermediaries liable for user content have become areas of increasing concern to the Wikimedia movement.  Over the past several years, international policies and litigation have threatened to undermine the ability for users and platforms to freely link across the web. The need to monitor and raise awareness around these threats, and to promote ways that help safeguard the freedoms currently in place, has become more vital than ever.

You may be asking yourself: What is intermediary liability?

For more details on intermediary liability, see our policy website.

Every day thousands of people contribute text and images to the Wikimedia projects, develop and support self-governing editorial policies, and work collaboratively to evaluate and resolve conflicting views about  facts, relevance, or the copyright status of a work. The Wikimedia Foundation acts as an intermediary, or a neutral third party, by hosting and supporting Wikimedia projects without controlling what people write and contribute to the sites. As a consequence, the Wikimedia projects are neutral, open platforms where people are free to share knowledge and learn.

Intermediary liability protections shelter intermediaries—such as internet service providers, search engines, social media platforms, and the collaborative projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation from liability for the content they host. In our case, these laws and regulations allow the Wikimedia projects to host users’ contributions from around the world without being held legally responsible for the expression of those users. These protections undergird the fundamental attributes of an open internet—for example, the ability to link to websites throughout the world and contribute new content via online platforms. Intermediary liability protections relieve the Foundation of what would otherwise be the near-impossible obligation to make constant editorial determinations about the tens of thousands of edits made to Wikimedia sites each hour.

It is essential to retain these protections for intermediaries and the user-generated content that they host in the face of recent threats that call into question the ability to freely hyperlink to other websites. National governments, through legislation or in some cases naked exercises of authoritarian power, are increasingly demanding that intermediaries block, delist, or remove online content that they deem undesirable or unlawful. Such content includes political criticism and dissent, hate speech, defamation, and content that may violate the privacy or copyright protections of a given country (but not others). In this way, governments and other third parties are increasingly trying to make intermediaries legally responsible for their users’ speech and activities. This is effectively a form of censorship, treating the intermediary as a proxy for the speaker, and imposing huge burdens and restrictions on the free and open exchange of information online.

WIII will aim to generate broader awareness and research around this subject — in part, through the introduction of a dedicated research fellowship position at Yale Law School. Initially, the Research Fellow will focus on advocating the “right to link” and understanding link censorship laws and litigation. The Research Fellow will also conduct broader research related to intermediary liability, organize academic events, foster collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas to protect intermediary liability, support the development of creative legal and policy solutions to the issue, and lead other activities to advance the core goals of the initiative. Applications for the Research Fellow position are being considered on a rolling basis; application requirements are available on the ISP website.

WIII grew out of an ongoing academic affiliation and collaboration between Yale Law School and the Wikimedia Foundation and is made possible, in part, by funding from the Wikimedia Foundation. Given Wikimedia’s mission to build a world in which everyone can freely share in knowledge, one of the Foundation’s fundamental activities is to directly contribute to and participate with the research and educational mission of Yale Law School and other institutions of higher education that support free and open internet principles and free access to knowledge. Yale Law School students and faculty in particular, along with members of the Wikimedia Foundation have participated in symposia, presentations and conferences hosted by either the ISP or the Foundation. Yale Law School students and recent graduates have held internships and fellowships at the Wikimedia Foundation, and Yale Law School researchers have engaged in research with the assistance of Foundation staff.

Eileen Hershenov, General Counsel
Zhou Zhou, Legal Counsel
Wikimedia Foundation

For more information, see Yale Law School’s press release.

from Wikimedia Blog

The metamorphosis of Wiki Loves Butterfly



Photo by Sayan Sanyal, CC BY-SA 4.0.

“Butterflies have always enthralled human eyes, thanks to their exquisite and diverse texture and coloration, beauty, seemingly amazing metamorphosis, and carefree flight,” says Ananya Mondal, who goes by Atudu on Wikimedia projects.

Mondal, who by profession is a clinical nutritionist, is certainly not immune to this phenomenon. The large diversity and variety of butterfly species in her home region of West Bengal, India, has fueled such an interest in them that she is now known as the “Butterfly Wikimedian.” Still, her hunger for more knowledge was not met by Wikipedia at the time. She had several questions—like just how many species of butterflies are there in West Bengal, and if there were species yet to be uncovered—that she wanted answers to.

She decided to take matters into her own hands by adding one more question: could there be better documentation of these creatures on Wikimedia sites, particularly on her native Bengali Wikipedia?

Photo by Sayan Sanyal, CC BY-SA 4.0.

As it turned out, Mondal was able to answer that for herself. She created Wiki Loves Butterfly, a two-year effort to improve Wikimedia’s coverage of butterflies in West Bengal. Along with her co-leader Sandip Das, Mondal drew up copious amounts of documentation to support the project before it launched in March 2016. This included subject bibliographies, lepidopterists, and prime butterfly spotting locations in the region, in addition to a list of amateur and professional photographers who were active in the subject area.

“Of note,” Mondal says, “I included these people, with widely differing fields and areas of expert, as edit-a-thon and wiki contributors. I then used that to initiate an extensive Wikimedia outreach program.”

Photo by Tamaghna Sengupta, CC BY-SA 3.0.

With these individuals, along with several Wikimedians and students, Mondal went out into the field. “I followed the activities of people involved to get suggestions for best practices,” she says, and accomplished several other tasks:

  • Traveled and documented those butterfly hotspots
  • Collaborated with subject matter experts to identify pictured species
  • Solicited help from local guides and photographers
  • Created Wikipedia articles
  • Studied butterfly morphology, habitats, behavioral aspects, host plants, life cycle, and more

The Wiki Loves butterfly’s first part ran from March 2016 to June of this year, and saw ten new users, over a hundred new articles, 650 images—nearly half of which are used on Wikimedia projects, and nearly fifty have been noted by the community for their quality. 163 individual species have been captured on film, 30 of which had no photograph on Wikimedia Commons before, and 13 of which had no article on the English Wikipedia.

The second part of the project is running from now until March 2018, and you can join.

Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

from Wikimedia Blog

How the discovery and sharing of trusted information have evolved



Photo by Tom Murphy VII, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sometimes it can feel as if the world is changing more quickly than ever, and it’s easy to forget that we’re living at the very forefront of a historic timeline of knowledge creation that has evolved through centuries and across cultures, languages, and technologies.

The Wikimedia Foundation recently hosted three “brown bag” discussions with experts on the evolving history of knowledge sharing, providing valuable context for understanding the modern challenges of today and the opportunities to sustain and build the global Wikipedia community of tomorrow. Each of our invited experts (Panthea Lee, Adam Hochschild, and Uzo Iweala) echoed key aspects of other projects which the Foundation has organized as part of its broader effort to understand the future of Wikimedia.

Below is a summary of the two major themes which came out of the discussions, each of which has been posted with the full videos and transcripts.

Our trust in both the sources and methods of distribution of information continues to evolve. People have shifting attitudes toward the trustability of traditional knowledge institutions and more often prefer to use personally-tailored channels to discover and share information with people we trust. This is especially true of younger readers, a focus of our discussion with Panthea Lee, lead designer at Reboot, a research design firm that helped launch the New Readers project in Nigeria and India.

“We see a lot of young people following vloggers and bloggers … that have built up trust in certain ways that may not see Wikipedia content as credible or easy to use,” Lee mentioned, noting that a possible future aspect to the Foundation’s work might build ways to incorporate modular Wikipedia resources and tools into channel-based communities where younger readers discover, create, and share information they trust with people who they trust more than traditional publishers.

Weakened trust in traditional education institutions may be accelerating an interest in personal knowledge creation and sharing, as well. “People are hungry for alternative sources of knowledge,” said Uzo Iweala, a physician, author, Foundation advisor, and CEO and editor-in-chief of Ventures Africa.

Expanding to new readers can also carry a challenge of verification. Sources of knowledge that may be considered of lower value in certain communities, like oral storytelling, are trusted, primary sources in others. Iweala shared a personal example: “We can trace back [my own lineage] to maybe the 1400s, but no one would believe because the start of that is in the 1800s, when the British came in and started keeping paper records. But the stories go back way, way further.”

Creativity in the face of obstacles can inspire brilliant new methods of knowledge sharing. Adam Hochschild, co-founder of Mother Jones, reviewed the history of knowledge sharing, providing a few powerful examples of how people have created solutions to information-sharing barriers.

Hochschild pointed to his study of London in the month of February 1788, where “half the debates on record are about slavery or the slave trade.” Adam wanted to know what caused the dramatic spike in the recorded discussion of slavery. His search led him to discover a remarkably brilliant use case in format-based activism.

“A very well organized small group of ardent abolitionists began experimenting” with use of pamphlets and inspired the creation of a famous poster (below), he told us, depicting the stowage of the British slave ship Brookes under the regulated slave trade act of 1788.

Poster via the Library of Congress, public domain.

Hochschild said that the poster helped strengthen the public support to end slavery:

The printing of black and white graphics had been around, you know, for a century. But they began using this for their purposes, and one result of all that you’ve seen as a famous poster of a slave ship … You read memoirs from this period and you find many people writing about the impact it had on them when they first saw the slave ship poster.

In a more modern example of innovation in storytelling-based solutions to recording and sharing knowledge, Hochschild pointed to The People’s Archive of India, which documents exactly the kind of information that local news organizations have avoided historically, such as traditional songs which scholars can now use for research.

It’s a bit overwhelming to think about all the stories which have never been shared only because there isn’t a way to do so yet. The good news is that history, and the work of communities around the world today, show that it’s possible to build a future for knowledge sharing across new generations and cultures. All we need is creativity, dedication, trust, and an acknowledgement that things will change again.

Have you changed the way you discover and share information you trust? We invite you to learn how to join us in the discussion about the ways we participate in knowledge sharing, and tell us about the challenges you face (and your favorite creative solutions).

Margarita Noriega, Strategy Consultant, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

Videos and transcripts from each brown bag are available on Commons.

from Wikimedia Blog

Editing to change the world: Vinicius Siqueira



Photo by Ruby Mizrahi/ Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0.

On 26 April this year, Vinicius Siqueira celebrated the tenth anniversary of his first edit on Wikipedia. In the last decade, he has helped grow the Portuguese Wikipedia by creating hundreds of articles, making several thousand edits, and helping his fellow students learn how to edit. Over the years, Siqueira has charged himself with different tasks within the Wikipedia community as his aspirations changed.

At the age of fourteen, Siqueira joined Wikipedia. His first edit was to create an article about Mário Neme, a Brazilian writer. He followed this edit with nearly 40,000 more in the next ten years, which included creating over 650 new articles. At that time, Wikipedia played a dual role in Siqueira’s life by encouraging him to dig for information and share what he learned with the world. Siqueira shared with us his memories about his early days on Wikipedia:

“It started spontaneously, pushed by my curiosity and desire to discover and learn new things. I wrote and translated many articles in Portuguese. In the meantime, I’ve realized how big this project is and how important it is for people to find accurate information on anything in their own homes for free.

I believed that I was part of a revolution, a sense that every single person has the right to access information. The belief that knowledge should not be restricted by boundaries or barriers made me a lover of Wikipedia as a knowledge sharing tool. Many volunteers around the globe with this same passion created the biggest encyclopedia in the world. I love being part of this!”

Siqueira’s efforts kicked off with translating articles from the English and Spanish Wikipedias to grow the Portuguese Wikipedia, choosing topics of interest to him. However, once he started university, he redirected his energy towards a more specific discipline.

“I studied medicine and started to write more about medical topics,” he recalled. “It is very important to have accurate information [about medicine] in every language in the world, so that people can get informed about their health. … Wikipedia plays an important role on the internet by providing this advice free of charge.” Studying medicine not only influenced Siqueira’s contributions to Wikipedia; it helped with Wikipedia’s outreach to new communities on his campus.

In 2012, Brazil was one of the first countries to adopt the Wikipedia Education Program, where educators assign their students to edit Wikipedia as part of their class requirements. Siqueira was Wikipedia’s Campus Ambassador at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) where he taught his fellow students the editing basics.

“Thanks to this program, … the Portuguese Wikipedia has dozens of quality articles about physics (which used to be a weak area in the project),” says Siqueira. “The program helped us maintain good relationships with professors at the largest university in Brazil as well. That helped spread the word about Wikipedia to hundreds of students.”

Besides editing Wikipedia articles and reviewing edits made by new users, Siqueira is a member of Wikimedia User Group Brazil, where he helps the community organize events and projects to support the movement in his country. Despite demands on his time as a senior medical student, there is always something that encourages him to keep contributing to Wikipedia.

“There is something that makes my eyes shine and I feel really proud when I see someone reading or citing something I wrote on Wikipedia,” Siqueira said. “I’m from Brazil, a developing country where Wikipedia is a vital source of information because it’s free. People can get access to information on the internet, using data on their mobile phones or school networks, etc…. Wikipedia is a revolutionary tool for people in the world because it has made access to knowledge easier than ever before.”

Interview by Ruby Mizrahi, Interviewer
Profile by Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

from Wikimedia Blog

It’s time to protect the public domain!



Painting by Viktor Vasnetsov, public domain.

A large corpus of content on Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, and other Wikimedia projects is freely available because it is in the public domain. The public domain is an important pillar of free knowledge, creativity, and innovation as well as an indispensable counterweight to exclusive rights on intellectual property. We all benefit from it as we access this rich body of culture and information, share it, and freely reuse it to create new works.

Life after death: When copyright expires

Once copyright expires (in much of the world, not until 50 or 70 years after the author’s death), works enter the public domain and are then free to be shared and included in the Wikimedia projects. The current length of copyright terms keeps works out of the public domain for easily over one hundred years after their creation. Wikimedians support shorter copyright terms to allow the public to benefit from works sooner, increasing everyone’s free access to knowledge. The public domain, as part of the commons, is not privately owned, but free for everyone to enjoy and benefit from. One challenge that we as a society face today is preserving our cultural heritage and making it available in digital formats that can be shared all over the world. To digitize works, Wikimedians photograph art and documents, scan books, and upload the resulting files to a Wikimedia project, often in collaboration with cultural heritage (or: GLAM) institutions. These efforts benefit us all by allowing everybody access to cultural heritage works, even those who are not able to go to the GLAM institutions where they are physically housed.

Until the End of Time: Copyright term extensions through the backdoor

Recently, however, the act of digitizing works that are in the public domain to make them available to anyone has caused some controversy. While many museums are adopting new technology to make their collections more available and accessible to a wider audience, others have been concerned that photographs of public domain works in their collections are available freely online. In Germany, for instance, the Reiss-Engelhorn museums have sued the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Deutschland over the use of images of cultural artefacts and paintings. Recently, the court has decided that even a photographer’s own images of these works will infringe on the museums’ property. Similarly, in Norway and Germany, institutions have tried to extend control over the use of images of items in their collections through trademarks. And in Spain, copyright law awards 25 years of exclusive rights for certain kinds of mere reproductions of works. In many more countries the legal situation is inconclusive.

These cases and national rules raise larger questions about the balance of exclusive rights and the public domain, and about access to culture and knowledge. How will society benefit from works that are in the public domain in the future if other exclusive rights are threatening to privatize it again? How can the public domain expand to benefit everyone if exclusive rights keep being created and extended to keep works from entering the public domain? How can we make sure that the right to participation in culture and knowledge is promoted and the internet’s promise of bringing valuable content to everyone is upheld?

We Need to Protect the Public Interest

It is imperative to make sure future generations can enjoy a vibrant public domain. Therefore, the law should not grant new exclusive rights for faithful reproductions and digitizations of works that are in the public domain. European lawmakers are currently debating copyright reform for the EU, and they now have the opportunity to safeguard the public domain from vested interests that threaten to privatize culture and knowledge. We encourage them to adopt rules that guarantee that the public domain will remain free and vivid. Preserving our cultural and scientific knowledge for the digital age is a monumental task for society, but pursuing that preservation should not undermine the ability for all to participate in culture and knowledge. The public domain and exclusive rights are two sides of one and the same equation. We already protect exclusive rights, it is time to balance the equation by protecting the public domain as well!

Jan Gerlach, Public Policy Manager, Wikimedia Foundation
Dimitar Dimitrov, Project Lead, Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU

from Wikimedia Blog

Why I was the Visiting Wikimedian at Wikimedia Germany



Me, Davit Saroyan, as part of the organizing team of the 2017 Wikimedia Conference (far right). Photo by Jason Krüger, CC BY-SA 4.0.

My story begins with a short episode at the Wikimedia Armenia office. After the 2016 Wikimedia Conference, my colleague Lilit Tarkhanyan sent me a link to a new project from Wikimedia Germany (Deutschland) and said that I should check it out.

The project was their Visiting Wikimedian program, and it became a turning point for me. I explored the project and its requirements, read Teele Vaalma’s previous experience, and felt like it was a crazy idea, one that I had almost no shot at being selected. Still, I also knew that I had to try.

Luckily, there was an opportunity waiting for me: Nicole Ebber and Cornelius Kibelka offered me a three-month internship to work with them.

It took me some time to master how to introduce my new role. I was new not only to Wikimedia Germany but (for the most part) the Wikimedia movement, so it was important to introduce myself properly during each meeting or call. Now I’ll do it for you too:

Hi, my name is Davit Saroyan, the Program Manager of Wikimedia Armenia. I was at Wikimedia Germany because I had been selected to be the 2017 Visiting Wikimedian, where I mostly supported that year’s Wikimedia Conference team—especially Cornelius Kibelka. The Visiting Wikimedian program aims to pass knowledge from the German chapter to other Wikimedia affiliates. After being there for three months, I returned back to use my learnings at my home chapter.

First steps in Berlin: Wikimedia Germany

Having made it to Germany, I found myself waiting for a train in an underground station. I would soon work at a foreign organization for the first time in my life. I was excited. I had doubts. I had fears. “Einsteigen, bitte” (Get in, please), the automatic voice said from the arrived train. I got in.

I was introduced to Wikimedia Germany, its departments, activities and people. I entered every department, and staff members were very kind to tell me about their work and experiences. I learned about the amazing and collaborative work they do and how this work comes together to create something great. The working language for me was English, which was unusual and hard. I struggled a lot when communicating and completing tasks, but also felt like I was communicating more and more easily with every new day.

When in the office, I sat with the Event Management team—Daniela Gentner, Wenke Storn and Mona Huber, who were amazing people as always.

Exploring the Wikimedia movement

Among my first tasks was one that I think of as my first big step toward exploring the Wikimedia movement from the German perspective. I was to draw a large map of the world without borders on one of the drawable walls in the office, marking the locations of every Wikimedia organization with the photos of their board chairs and executive directors.

World map of Wikimedia organizations in the Wikimedia Germany office, drawn by Davit Saroyan.Photo by Elisabeth Mandl, CC BY-SA 4.0.

This task helped me visually express the diversity of Wikimedia organizations, get to know their heads, and understand the distributions of the chapters all over the world (you can clearly see the gaps, I suspect). Having not been to an international Wikimedia conference before, building this graphic threw the movement’s diversity into stark relief.

Another major task given to me was to create an infographic, based on the follow-up page from previous Wikimedia Conferences, that reflected the important topics of the Wikimedia Conference, their connections, and how they have evolved since 2015. I took the colors and design from the Berlin Underground (U-Bahn) map, which I saw every day, researched, mapped the connections, defined the timeline, and used my visualization skills to draw it. Though I had known about some of the turning points before, this poster gave me a clearer view of the whole image of interconnected events in the Wikimedia Movement.

How have the Wikimedia Conference’s main topics evolved since 2015? Infographic by Davit Saroyan, CC BY-SA 4.0.

And finally, when organizing a party quiz game, I had to go through many wiki related pages looking for interesting facts on the Wikimedia Movement. I stumbled upon interesting stories, learnings, and facts that I did not know before.

Supporting the Wikimedia Conference program

The most important work I did was to support the design and implementation of the Wikimedia Conference’s program. I will not go into details of the program design because the information is available on Meta, but instead I will highlight my most valuable learnings.

The registration process was almost over, and we had lots of data to work with. Our first task was to analyze the data, identify, and evaluate the needs and find appropriate people who would accomplish this need at the conference. I learned how to analyze and cluster the answers of participants, find key words, group them, and come up with potential topics. Cornelius, who has much more experience in this work, helped me understand how these topics can be transformed into real sessions, how the need can be matched and connected to the potential speakers in order to accomplish this need. These sessions would later form the final conference program.

After designing sessions, finding speakers and having their approval, Cornelius came up with the nice idea of having calls with the speakers to make these sessions better. There are a lot of learnings behind this idea, that’s why I’ve written a learning pattern.

Communication and some social events

The Wikimedia Conference team noticed my passion for graphic design and started giving me more tasks in that area. This led to me making almost all the signage and posters that people saw at the Wikimedia Conference. I also designed the “How to survive in Berlin” conference guide. All of these would have been impossible without Wikimedia Germany’s style guide.

Long before me, Wenke Storn initiated the “Buddy Project” to make the conference more social by helping newcomers integrate into it. After my arrival, I also became involved in this project, and I later—with Chiara Weiß, a volunteer from the federal volunteers service—were charged with carrying it out. More on the project and what we learned from it is available on Meta-Wiki.

These are the major projects and tasks I worked on during my time at Wikimedia Germany. I have to thank the conference team for their incredible help. They helped me to learn. They helped me to feel welcome.

The conference

This will be the most emotional part. After being involved with the conference team for almost three months, I still had little idea of how the conference would actually look like—again, I’d never been to one before. When it began, I was at the registration desk when people started streaming in, and in one of the conference rooms when sessions were running. The atmosphere was magical. The people I’ve emailed, and met only through a screen, are now real. I met many wonderful people in person. I had conversations with many of them about the Wikimedia movement in their communities. I was amazed by the diversity of their communities and activities. I was amazed by the Wikimedia movement as a whole.

The conference was when I realized how connected I was to the conference team that made all of this magic happen. I felt like I could not work or be anywhere else, and I now miss those days, my team, and the German chapter a lot.

My story ends with another flashback, this time at Wikimedia Germany’s office, after the end of the conference. After hugging Daniela, Wenke, Mona and saying goodbye, Wenke told me that “There are two things you should definitely take back with you to Armenia: your memories of Berlin and your pride for being a part of the Wikimedia Conference”.

Davit Saroyan, Program Manager
Wikimedia Armenia

Would you like to be the next Visiting Wikimedian for the Wikimedia Conference 2018 at Wikimedia Germany? The next application process will start in September/October this year. Check the page on Meta for updates.

If you would like to learn more about the Wikimedia Conference 2017 in Berlin and its outcomes, check out the recently published conference report.

from Wikimedia Blog

Community digest: Egypt Wikimedians encourage Arabic Wikipedia newcomers with a writing contest; news in brief



Students editing at a Wikipedia workshop. Photo by Essam Sharaf, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Wikimedia Egypt Prize is a writing contest that aims at improving Arabic content on Wikimedia projects. This year’s edition has encouraged 30 participants to develop their editing skills and create and improve several hundred articles on the Arabic Wikipedia.

Concentrating its efforts on beginner-level, rather than established editors is a distinguishing characteristic from other writing contests. A ground rule has limited the participation to users with under 1000 Wikipedia edits.

“It is an opportunity for newbies that urges them to contribute and provides them with a tolerably competitive atmosphere,” says Walaa Abdel Manaem, a member of the prize committee. She continues:

“This one is different as it is targeted to beginners in general and student editors in particular. We have a writing contest called the Producer Prize on the Arabic Wikipedia, where usually highly-experienced editors can compete, and we have the WikiWomen contest and Somou Prize, both focus on making significant progress in a short amount of time. The Wikimedia Egypt Prize is a short-term contest as well, but the competition is not as fierce as it is mainly for beginner users.”

Beginner contributions, however, doesn’t mean low-quality content. A new article “must be written in clear language, well-formatted, categorized and referenced,” the project page reads. “Any article that doesn’t meet these requirements will not be considered.” More points are given to participants who add an infobox, more links and references to their articles.

Opening the contest for experienced users may have resulted in greater results, but Mohamed Ouda, who had the first idea for the contest, thought that “beginners need more support in order to keep editing.” Ahmed Hamdi Mohi, a member of the prize committee, agrees that the contest “helps both retain entry-level editors and attract many new editors and get them integrated into the Wikipedia community to gain experience in editing.”

The contest started on 1 January 2017 and lasted through 15 April. By the end, the participants had created 493 new articles and improved 220 existing articles. Many participants went above and beyond with their contributions, but ultimately 3 prizes went to:

  1. First Place: Reem Mahmoud
  2. Second Place: Sarah Nabih
  3. Third Place: Entesar Shaaban and Ghada Muhammad Tohamy

In brief

Photo by Xabier Cañas, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Basque Wikimedians expand Wikipedia in education efforts: During the winter and spring terms this year, the Basque Wikimedians have expanded their education program to the campus of the public University of the Basque Country in Leioa, Bilbao. In the Donostia-San Sebastian campus, Wiki GLAM collaboration continued their 2016 efforts to bridge the gap between Wikipedia, children’s literature and university. More in the This Month In Education newsletter.

Wikidata milestone: Wikidata, the free knowledge base that hosts structured data from Wikipedia and its sister Wikimedia projects has reached 500,000,000 edits. The half-billionth edit was to the Olfr343-ps1 item page, pseudogene in the species Mus musculus (house mouse).

Kenyan Wikipedian named one of Mozilla’s Network50: Wikipedia editor and Wikimedia Kenya board member Alex Wafula was named to Mozilla’s 50 people who made the internet a better place in 2016.

WikidataCon 2017: WikidataCon is the conference dedicated to the Wikidata community that will be held on 28 and 29 October 2017 in the Tagesspiegel venue, in Berlin. Scholarship applications to attend the conference are open through 16 July and program submissions are being accepted through 31 July.

FDC election results: The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) is a diverse body of people reflecting different aspects of the Wikimedia movement, including its geographic, linguistic, and cultural diversity. The committee’s role is to help make decisions about how to effectively allocate movement funds to achieve Wikimedia’s mission, vision, and strategy. This year’s election results have been announced, and Michał Buczyński, Lorenzo Losa, Liam Wyatt, Osmar Valdebenito, and Katherine Bavage have all been elected to the committee. Kirill Lokshin was re-elected as the FDC’s Ombudsperson.

Wiki Loves Earth Biosphere Reserves competition concludes: Biosphere Reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof, which are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Programme on Man and the Biopshere (MAB). Wiki Loves Earth has partnered with UNESCO to create Wiki Loves Earth Biosphere Reserves, a photography competition to create free to use images of Biosphere Reserves around the world on Wikimedia Commons, the media site for Wikipedia. The contest was open from 1 May and concludes on 30 June 2017.

Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

from Wikimedia Blog